Gloria Brame, Ph.D.

Gay pulp fiction: The covers of our fathers

Filed By Gloria Brame, Ph.D. | June 11, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Media
Tags: bisexual pulp, vintage fiction

They were "shame mates"? That's kind of hot! But perhaps not quite as hot as a "dungaree jungle" where men are clad only in underwear. Do I see a hint of stockings under that robe?

Two gay pulp fiction book covers after the jump.


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hey, I really appreciate these posts.

my curiosity is killing me though... I'm not sure whether the reads would be funny or sad ("shame mates???")

Yes, you do indeed see a hint of silk stocking under that robe. LOL

Lord... I found one of these kind of books at a used bookstore that was going out of business and had thrown everything into boxes you just picked and chose through. I dont remember the title, but it was howlingly awful. I seriously cannot imagine who the market was for these things; I cant even imagine any marginally self-respecting gay man finding them hot... because they certainly werent that.

Just as a side note, I also found, at the same bookstore, a copy of Richard Armour's SONG OF THE LOON trilogy... all three books... all stamped on page 1 -- and I kid you not -- "property of _______ High School". LOLOL

I like the guy in front on the first cover, but that smile is soooo cheesy. He fills out a jock nicely from that view though... LOL

Sean, those who would read those books are guys who used to be like me - scared to deal with what I perceived to be a tendency toward desiring males, terrified that I might actually be gay, terrified that someone might find out, positive that I couldn't ever possibly visit a real gay-themed or gay-owned store because people would see me, which of course led me to those oddball used book venues as noted above where I was once told to "get out faggot" because I was trying my best to find something enticing to read. And, mind you, that was long before I actually came to grips with being gay.

Guys like me didn't know that there was reasonably well written and designed gay-themed fiction that was available. All I knew back then was that the hint of the gay relationships that I could read about in these books was sufficient for satisfying my curiosity.

Now, I read acceptable porn. I guess I've grown in that area.

Covers of "our fathers"? Grandfathers would be more like it. There is this interesting tendency, which I've seen elsewhere, to assign the tastes and cultural ephemera of 2 or more generations back to one's parent's generation. These are books of the fifties and early sixties -- I know, I was there.
That's about 50 years ago. So if one was, say, 15 at the time, one would now be 65. 65 = grandfather, in most cases. "Song of the Loon" or fiction of that ilk is what one's father was reading. Similarly, an instance of say a nasty contemporary teenager accusing his father or mother of a musical affinity for, say, Lawrence Welk, is a generation off. Your mother's generation's cherished music is late doo-wop and early rock'n'roll.

I find this an interesting psychological phenomenon -- my guess is that it has something to do with the denial of passing time and the eventuality of death -- by putting one's parents in a time-frame that is "ancient" to you, one extends time to such a length that one is able to view the end of one's own life as so far in the unimaginable future that it doesn't have to be contemplated.

I think these pulp novels are a terrific find. the more youthful among us forget the scandalous nature of this type of material in print and are, frankly, unaware of the era out of which it arose.

the 1940s-'50s were decades rife with debate about what was or should be considered obscene. alongside the pulp literature of the day were juxtaposed the women we know as The Pin-Ups. in fact, a Miss Betty Mae Page, later coined Bettie Page, simply wanted to model. she soon found herself naively posing for fetish mags and a high paying clientele. however, before long, circa 1952-54, the young model was called to be a witness in a Federal indecency trial; the defendant...the very photographer who made her the superstar, "Queen of the Pinups", gay & straight alike love and adore today for having absolutely no inhibitions and being such a natural beauty.

men's magazines of the period went the way of sport. The "He-Man", "The Bodybuilder", "The Gymnast" were born to glorify the artistry of the male form. thereby, much scrutiny was deflected, as the mags were not patently marketed to a 'gay audience', though they were, without a doubt, homoerotic.